Tristan Tirkia, a stateless person and a native of Georgia, had been imprisoned in the center for detention of foreign nationals in Krasnoye Selo (Leningrad region) for more than a year since February 2015. Conditions of detention in this penitentiary institution have been recognized as inhumane and in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention by the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR). Although formally the purpose of placing Mr. Tirkia into the detention center for foreign nationals had been his further expulsion from Russia, it was clear that in the case of Tirkia, who is a stateless person, deportation was impossible and thus his confinement in a closed institution turned into a deprivation of liberty without a purpose for an unspecified period of time. The fact that Mr. Tirkia does not have citizenship of Georgia was established back in April 2015, while the bailiffs had unsuccessfully petitioned for provision of identity documents to Mr. Tirkia even earlier, back in February 2015.
Mr. Tirkia’s lawyer Yuri Serov and the bailiffs, who had earlier failed to get a ruling on Tirkia’s expulsion from Russia, appealed to the Leninsky district court of St. Petersburg, but the court’s judge Mrs. Korchagina denied termination of the earlier ruling on expulsion: according to the court, the law of the Russian Federation assigns two year period for the execution of an administrative decision, which at the time of court appeal by the lawyer and bailiffs has not expired, while earlier release of Mr. Tirkia from detention is not provided by law.
The court ruled out any possibility of control of the validity of Tirkia’s detention in the detention center for foreign nationals before the expiry date for execution of the earlier ruling on expulsion.
The court’s refusal was then appealed by the lawyer in the St. Petersburg city court. St. Petersburg city court overruled earlier refusal of the Leninsky district court and the case was submitted for re-trial to the same district court.
The city court’s ruling contains important points concerning the cases of impracticable expulsion of stateless persons.
Firstly, the court found it necessary for the applicants to be present at court hearings (or at least it stated the necessity of clarifying with the applicant whether he or she wished to participate in court hearings) when considering the cases concerning termination of the rulings on expulsion from the country.
In the majority of expulsion cases, the applicants are not delivered before the court in person, which violates their procedural rights, since they are being denied the right to give explanations and present their testimonies and evidence. Those of them, who do not have lawyers, face trial in absentia.
Secondly, the city court pointed to the obligatory request from the bailiffs of all the materials concerning enforcement proceedings in order to check what had been done for the expulsion and whether it can be implemented in principle. These actions are especially important as the court should understand whether the bailiffs acted with due diligence and whether the placement of persons into the detention center for foreign nationals was indeed justified.
It is also important that the ruling of the city court referred to the European Convention on Human Rights while pointing out the unreasonableness of indefinite imprisonment in the detention centers for foreign nationals and inhumane conditions of detention there.
During the new consideration of the case by the Leninsky district court of St. Petersburg (by a new team of judges), the rules of international law were correctly applied and appearance of Mr. Tirkia in court was ensured, while the court also requested all the necessary documents from the bailiffs and established the need to stop the enforcement proceedings in the case of Mr. Tirkia.
Unfortunately, the Russian legislation still has not changed as had been required by the ECtHR ruling in the case of “Kim v. Russia” in order to systematically improve the situation of stateless persons. But the ruling of the St. Petersburg city court and the Leninsky district court of St. Petersburg in the case of Mr. Tirkia are rare examples of good judicial practice in cases concerning impracticable expulsion from the country.